Gentooized documentation page of x86 embedded Gentoo

10.2.2005 | by heath holcomb

I have created a web page for the x86 Embedded Gentoo how-to based on the Gentoo documentation format. It the first draft, so expect spelling and format errors. I'll also be updateing the layout from time to time to try to make it more readable.


Embedded Gentoo How To for x86 version 0.08

8.17.2005 | by heath holcomb

# Embedded Gentoo How-To for x86
# A how-to guide to setup a Gentoo embedded environment, you must be root.
# These commands are to be run on your development system,
# any x86 Gentoo Linux computer will do. The system should be fast,
# to speed development. The target can be any x86 based SBC. I'm
# using a Geode based SBC. Latter I'll use a Via based SBC.
# versio 0.08
# 2005.8.13
# Heath Holcomb (heath at
# Ned Ludd (original commands posted)
# Lloyd Sargent (contributor)
# Yuri Vasilevski (contributor)
# Mike George (contributor)
# Kammi Cazze (contributor)
# Marius Schaefer (contributor)
# Definitions and Terms
# system_rootfs = your regular rootfs, development computer
# development_rootfs = what you use to build the embedded_rootfs
# embedded_rootfs = rootfs you deploy to the target system
# SBC = single board computer (here it's an x86 based)
# References
# Gentoo embedded mailing list (
# Overview of process (steps)
# 1 - Prepare the development_rootfs from your system_rootfs
# 2 - Build the development_rootfs
# 3 - Build the embedded_rootfs
# 4 - Build and install non-system programs to the embedded_rootfs
# 5 - Build and install a kernel to the embedded_rootfs
# 6 - Deploy embedded_rootfs to target

#----- Step 1 - Prepare the development_rootfs from your system_rootfs -------

# You must be root.
su -
cd /opt

# Create the development_rootfs directory.
# I use i586 because of target is a Geode processor.
mkdir -p /opt/i586-gentoo-uclibc-linux/usr/portage

# Download the latest stage 1 tarball.
wget \\

# Untar the stage to the development_rootfs.
tar -xvjpf stage1-x86-uclibc-2005.0.tar.bz2 -C /opt/i586-gentoo-uclibc-linux/

# Mount the proc and portage directories to your development_rootfs.
# Makes your system_rootfs's proc and portage directory available from inside
# of your development_rootfs (after chrooting).
mount --bind /proc /opt/i586-gentoo-uclibc-linux/proc/
mount --bind /usr/portage /opt/i586-gentoo-uclibc-linux/usr/portage

# Copy over DNS information to the development_rootfs.
cp /etc/resolv.conf /opt/i586-gentoo-uclibc-linux/etc/resolv.conf

# Chroot into the development_rootfs.
chroot /opt/i586-gentoo-uclibc-linux /bin/bash --login

#----- Step 2 - Build the development_rootfs ---------------------------------

# Create new environment and load variables into memory.
source /etc/profile

# Modify make.conf file to your liking/needs.
nano -w /etc/make.conf
# This is for my target, Geode x86 processor.
USE="bitmap-fonts minimal truetype-fonts mmx"
CFLAGS="-march=i586 -Os -pipe -fomit-frame-pointer -mmmx"


# Set profile to use 2.6 kernel.
# The current stage uses 2.4 by default, and for most cases you are going
# to want a 2.6.x kernel.
cd /etc/
unlink make.profile
ln -s ../usr/portage/profiles/uclibc/x86 make.profile

# Start the bootstrap script.
cd /usr/portage/scripts
./ -p -v

# Workaround - bootstraping
# Failure compiling uclibc (gcc-config error: Could not run/locate "gcc")?
# If you get a failure while bootstrap is compileing uclibc here are the steps
# to work around the problem.
gcc-config 1
source /etc/profile

# Emerge the system ebuild for the development_rootfs.
emerge -e system

# Workaround - emerge system
# During emerge -e system, python-fchksum failes complaing about
# gcc-config error: Could not run/locate "i386-gentoo-linux-uclibc-gcc"
# The following commands work around this problem.
emerge python
emerge -e system

#----- Step 3 - Build the embedded_rootfs ------------------------------------

# Create the embedded_rootfs directory.
mkdir /embedded_rootfs

# Emerge baselayout-lite into embedded_rootfs.
# This gives your system a basic file structure.
# 1.0_pre1 is the only one that is stable, right?
cd /usr/portage/sys-apps/baselayout-lite/
ROOT=/embedded_rootfs emerge baselayout-lite-1.0_pre1.ebuild

# Workaround - baselayout-lite
# Baselayout-lite is still beta, so a few fixes are needed.
# There needs to be a directory "log" in /var.
# Inittab calls for /usr/bin/tail, but it needs to /usr/bin.
mkdir /embedded_rootfs/var/log
nano -w /embedded_rootfs/etc/inittab
#tty3::respawn:/usr/bin/tail -f /var/log/messages
tty3::respawn:/bin/tail -f /var/log/messages

# Emerge uclibc into the embedded_rootfs.
# Use the -K option because we don't get the extra files created by the
# build/emerge process into our embedded rootfs which needs to be as
# small as possible.
ROOT=/embedded_rootfs emerge -K uclibc

# Emerge busybox into the embedded_rootfs.
# First you must emerge it into your development_rootfs.
# This does not create the symlinks in our development embedded rootfs.
emerge busybox
ROOT=/embedded_rootfs emerge -K busybox

# Create the symlinks for busybox in the embedded_rootfs.
mkdir /embedded_rootfs/proc
mount -o bind /proc/ /embedded_rootfs/proc/
chroot /embedded_rootfs /bin/busybox --install -s
umount /embedded_rootfs/proc

# Set time zone in your embedded_rootfs.
# See for details.
# For central standard time in the US, use "CST6CDT".
nano -w /embedded_rootfs/etc/TZ

# Install a boot loader (usually grub or lilo).
# Once you copy/deploy your embedded_rootfs to your target SBC you will
# have to run grub on the command line to write to the master boot record
# (MBR).
# For some reason not all of /boot/grub is copied over to the
# embedded_rootfs, so a extra manual copy step is needed.
# The --nodeps gets rip of the run time need of ncurses.
emerge --nodeps grub
ROOT=/embedded_rootfs emerge -K --nodeps grub
cp -R /boot/grub /embedded_rootfs/boot/

# Modify your boot configure file.
# The example below is for a gurb, for a boot partition on /dev/hda1 and only
# one partition on the target SBC system.
nano -w /embedded_rootfs/boot/grub/grub.conf
default 0
timeout 10

title=Linux 2.6.x
root (hd0,0)
kernel /vmlinuz-2.6.x root=/dev/hda1 vga=792

# Set root password for the embedded_rootfs
chroot /embedded_rootfs
rm /embedded_rootfs/etc/passwd-

# Modify fstab.
# Below is mine, yours may vary.
nano -w /embedded_rootfs/etc/fstab
/dev/hda1 / reiserfs defaults 0 0
none /proc proc defaults 0 0
none /sys sysfs defaults 0 0
none /dev/shm tmpfs defaults 0 0

# Clean up the embedded_rootfs.
# Don't know why these files are there in the first place, so if anyone
# can tell me why.....
rm -R /embedded_rootfs/var/db/pkg/*
rm -R /embedded_rootfs/var/lib/portage/

#---- Step 4 - Build and install non-system programs to the embedded_rootfs --

# Emerge other software you need for you embedded target.
# This is very wildly depending on your needs.
# Also your proprietary application will be done here.
emerge foo*
ROOT=/embedded_rootfs emerge -K foo*

#---- Step 5 - Build and install a kernel to the embedded_rootfs -------------

# Install a kernel into embedded_rootfs.
# First we will emerge it into our development_rootfs, then configure and
# build it.
emerge vanilla-sources
cd /usr/src/
cd linux
make menuconfig
# Configure your kernel for your TARGET SBC here. I HIGHLY suggest you
# configure the kernel to compile everything into the kernel, and nothing
# as a module.
ROOT=/embedded_rootfs make modules_install
cp /usr/src/linux/arch/i386/boot/bzImage /embedded_rootfs/boot/vmlinuz-2.6.x

# A few notes on compiling your kernel.
# If deploying to Compact Flash/DiskOnChip/SD use ext2, as the journaling
# filing systems "write" to much for a flash device.
# If deploying to a hard drive use a journaling filing system, such as
# ext3 or reiserfs.

#---- Step 6 - Deploy embedded_rootfs to target ------------------------------

# Prepare a Gentoo (or any Linux distro) system on the target SBC using a
# harddrive. This is known as the target development rootfs.
# We will create a partition (/embedded_rootfs) that will server as our
# "test" partition to deploy our embedded_rootfs that we generate on our
# development_system.
# I use the following partitions to speed development (yours may vary):
# /dev/hda1 - /embedded_rootfs - 1 GB
# /dev/hda2 - /boot - 100 MB
# /dev/hda3 - swap - (size varies, 512 MB is a good number)
# /dev/hda4 - / - (what is left, at least 1.5 GB per 2005.0 install guide specs)
# Copy over your embedded_rootfs from you development system to your target
# system and the directory /embedded_rootfs. This needs to be done via NFS as
# need to preserve the permissions.
#The following commands are done from the
# target development rootfs.
mount -t reiserfs /dev/hda1 /mnt/embedded_rootfs
mount -t nfs\\
cp -adpR /mnt/nfs_embedded_rootfs/* /mnt/embedded_rootfs

# Modify your target system's gurb.conf (or lilo.conf) for allow you to boot
# to the embedded_rootfs partition.
# Reboot, and if all goes well you'll be greeted with a login prompt.
# Fin.

KEmbeddedGentoo - A preview of the GUI

7.25.2005 | by heath holcomb


Here is a preview of the GUI for KEmbeddedGentoo. It's a small QT based program I've been working on for the Embedded Gentoo project. I got tired of haveing to enter the same commands over and over again. It's a long ways from being finished, and I'm still learning how to program in Linux and QT/KDE.

Update, looking for feed back

7.20.2005 | by heath holcomb

I have not had much time to work on the how-to lately. Please give me feed back on any problems, or suggestions on making the how-to better.

Also, I'm looking at installing X (xorg) into the embedded environment; so if anyone has any experience or advace please e-mail (liquidcable at

I'm also looking for a tool kit to use in the embedded environment (QT, GTK, etc..). I'm most familiar with QT, but it is most likely to large for the embedded space. Although QT-Embedded looks good (but not free).